By Miranda Eddy
As soon as I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 14, it was instilled in me the dangers of drinking with this disease. So much so, that four years later, when I had my first drink, I was filled with apprehension. I hardly drank, and when I did, I rarely had more than one.
When my friends turned 18, I started going out clubbing, and going to bars, just like we all do when we ‘come of age’. Like they say with anything else, my confidence in drinking got better with practice, and so I became more comfortable when I was out with friends. I felt like it was fine, and under control, and that it would all work out at the end of the night. I mean, I was 18 - I was invincible, right?
But I was kidding myself. Over the years there were nights I thought I had it under control, but if I’m being honest, it all felt like a gamble. The sugar content of the alcohol would make my BGL’s rise so I would give myself insulin for that, but then the alcohol part would make my BGL’s drop a little while later. So, the next drink, I wouldn't give myself insulin to counteract the drop from the previous drink. But when there’s multiple drinks over the course of a night, this domino effect becomes hard to control, and once the alcohol starts to kick in, it becomes even harder to remember to test my BGL’s at all.
Then the scare happened. I drank too much too fast at a party one night when I was overseas, and I didn’t even think to check my sugar levels. I became unwell and ended up passing out. An ambulance was called, but while waiting for the paramedics to get there, I felt like I was going to die. I was terrified. Turns out, I hadn’t checked my sugar levels all night. And when I realised, it was too late - I couldn’t even sit up to check them myself because I was so sick. When the paramedics got to me, I was able to tell them I was a diabetic, and they took me straight to Emergency.
Waking up in hospital, I was so thankful that I was alive. I knew I hadn’t been looking after myself. It was the wake-up call I needed to stop thinking of drinking as a guessing game.
Today, I’m pretty strict with myself and what I know is my ‘safe limit’. I don't generally drink much anymore. I much prefer a refreshing can of Pepsi Max (I’m sure other T1D’s can understand) but if I do go out and drink, I stick to my limit, which is three standard drinks now. As much as those nights were fun in the beginning, partying with friends and just being ‘young’, I’ve realised it’s not worth the fear and the panic those nights used to end in.
Have you had a negative experience with alcohol and diabetes? Share your story in the comments below.